FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 60CR 12-3591]
HONORABLE LEON JOHNSON, JUDGE
Charles D. Hancock, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Christian Harris, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
JOSEPHINE LINKER HART, Associate Justice
Dashonne Robinson is in the custody of the Arkansas
Department of Correction after he pleaded guilty to four
counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of theft of
property, and one misdemeanor count of possession of a
controlled substance. The circuit court sentenced Robinson to
a twenty-year sentence in the Arkansas Department of
Correction for each of the eight felonies, plus a one-year
jail term for the possession charge. All of the sentences
were set to run concurrently. Robinson appeals from the
denial of his petition for post-conviction relief filed
pursuant to Rule 37 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal
Procedure. He argues that the circuit court erred in not
granting a hearing on his petition. We affirm the circuit
court's summary denial of Robinson's petition.
was charged by information with committing four counts of
aggravated robbery, four counts of felony theft of property,
and one count of misdemeanor possession of marijuana. At a
February 28, 2013 status hearing, Robinson appeared with
counsel, Jimmy Morris. The State offered a sentence
recommendation in exchange for a guilty plea. Although the
terms of the offer were not announced, Robinson stated on the
record that he was advised by counsel and understood the
offer. Nonetheless, the record establishes that Robinson
rejected the State's offer. The State then announced that
the plea offer was being withdrawn. The information was
subsequently amended to include a firearm enhancement.
5, 2014, Robinson again appeared with his trial counsel. The
State again tendered a plea deal, offering Robinson eight
concurrent twenty-year sentences with no firearm enhancement.
This time Robinson accepted the offer and entered his guilty
plea. The sentencing order was entered on June 16, 2014.
Robinson timely filed a petition for postconviction relief on
September 11, 2014. In his petition, Robinson alleged two
(1) Defense Counsel was constitutionally ineffective for not
properly representing the defendant during plea negotiations.
Defense Counsel should have properly informed the defendant
that, upon the defendant's rejection of an offer made by
the State, the State intended for all future offers to
involve stricter punishment terms.
(2) Defense Counsel was constitutionally ineffective for not
properly representing the defendant during plea negotiations.
Defense Counsel should have conducted additional plea
negotiations with the prosecutor as directed by the
factual underpinning of Robinson's second issue involves
an accusation that his trial counsel's failure to offer
to exchange information about alleged accomplices for a
State responded that Robinson's petition failed to state
facts sufficient to even warrant holding an evidentiary
hearing. It asserted that Robinson's contention that he
was initially offered a sentence recommendation of only ten
years is a "lie." Further, the State argued that
Robinson's trial counsel was not ineffective because he
failed to anticipate that the State would amend the
information some thirteen months later to include a firearm
enhancement. It likewise rejected Robinson's contention
that his trial counsel could have offered to trade
information regarding accomplices for a more favorable
sentence recommendation, because the State had no interest in
whatever Robinson had to say about the subject. Finally, the
State contended that Robinson showed no prejudice because he
was allowed to accept the only sentence offer it had made:
eight concurrent twenty-year sentences in the Arkansas
Department of Correction.
circuit court denied Robinson's petition without a
hearing. Citing Scott v. State, 2012 Ark. 199, 406
S.W.3d 1, the circuit court stated that for the case of a
petitioner who had entered a guilty plea to have a claim
cognizable under Rule 37, he was required to demonstrate a
reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, he
would not have entered the plea and would have insisted on
going to trial. The circuit court concluded that the petition
and the files and record of the case conclusively showed that
Robinson was entitled to no relief. It further found that
"Petitioner has failed to show any error made by
counsel, any prejudice created by counsel's conduct, or
any insistence on going to trial at any time." Robinson
timely appealed from this order.
court does not reverse a denial of postconviction relief
unless the circuit court's findings are clearly
erroneous. Adams v. State, 2013 Ark. 174, 427 S.W.3d
63. A finding is clearly erroneous when, although there is
evidence to support it, after reviewing the entire evidence,
we are left with the definite and firm conviction that a
mistake has been committed. Id. In making a
determination on a claim of ineffective assistance of
counsel, this court considers the totality of the evidence.
Id. Our standard of review requires that we assess
the effectiveness of counsel under the two-prong standard set
forth by the Supreme Court of the United States in
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984): that
the performance of petitioner's counsel was deficient,
that is, made errors so serious that counsel was not
functioning as the counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment,
and the petitioner was prejudiced by counsel's
performance. Id. As noted previously, when the
Strickland ineffectiveness test is applied to
situations involving the entry of a guilty plea, the question
is whether but for counsel's unprofessional errors, is
there a reasonable probability that the petitioner would not
have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to
trial. Scott v. State, supra.
discussing the Strickland standard, with respect to
allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel when a
guilty plea has been entered, the Court noted that "the
first half of the Strickland v. Washington test is
nothing more than a restatement of the standard of attorney
competence already set forth in Tollett v.
Henderson." The Tollett Court, however,
identified a significantly different focus in the prejudice
prong-"whether counsel's constitutionally
ineffective performance affected the outcome of the plea
process. In other words, in order to satisfy the
"prejudice" requirement, the defendant must show
that there is a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and
would have insisted on going to trial." Id.
disposition of petitions for postconviction relief is
governed by Rule 37.3(a) of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal
Procedure: "(a) If the petition and the files and
records of the case conclusively show that the petitioner is
entitled to no relief, the trial court shall make written
findings to that effect, specifying any parts ...